Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

'A little bit of advice': Working creatively with children and their foster carers to explore how they would like to share their experiences

Mannay, Dawn ORCID:, Vaughan, Rachael ORCID:, Boffey, Maria and Wooders, Charlotte 2023. 'A little bit of advice': Working creatively with children and their foster carers to explore how they would like to share their experiences. Kara, Helen, ed. The Bloomsbury Handbook of Creative Research Methods, Bloomsbury Handbooks, London: Bloomsbury, pp. 251-261.

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)


There is often an assumption that arts-based methods are participatory. However, the introduction of arts-based approaches does not necessarily confer more equal research relationships where the perspectives of participants are centralized. One problem with participatory approaches is that they are often only partially participatory (Mannay 2016), with participants having some freedom at the point of data generation but little influence on the design of the study. As Kara et al. (2021: 13) contend the ‘process of design directly influences each of the processes of the research and its outcomes’. Accordingly, the study design is the beating heart of research and practice-based projects but if these strategies are designed solely by researchers and practitioners, they can neglect what is important to and appropriate for working with communities. One solution to this problem is to consider co-design and co-production, where participants and researchers work collaboratively to generate the research design (Ersoy 2017). There are some best practice examples of this collaborative approach such as the work of Staples et al. (2019) who trained care-experienced young people in research methods and worked with them in an ongoing relationship. These young people were ‘experts by experience’ (Preston-Shoot 2007), having first-hand knowledge of the care system, combined with knowledge of the principles of research design, generation, analysis and dissemination. Therefore, they were able to contribute to studies and consultations by directing the topic of funding bids, developing the design of projects, creating tools of data production, acting as peer researchers, and developing impact materials. However, despite significant changes in attitudes to children’s involvement in decision-making, and a formal commitment to children’s rights and direct participation in consultations and research (Welsh Assembly Government 2004), there is less focus on the voices of young children in the design process. There are exceptions such as the ‘Little Voices Shouting Out’ work of Dale and Roberts (2018), which actively involved children under the age of eleven in the design, delivery and dissemination of school-based research and advocacy projects. Drawing on a ‘children as researchers’ model the ‘Little Voices’ projects all began with a research topic to investigate, and children were actively involved from the planning process to the sharing of the data with the support of adults in the team. The difference in the stages of the Walking Tall programmepresented in this chapter was that rather than being focused on a research question to answer, it was focused on the methodological and practical question of how children want to share their views. While the question of ‘how shall we do it’ is a feature of any project, in the work discussed in this chapter that was the primary concern. This chapter considers the importance of working with ‘experts by experience’ and planning for future research. The creative activities documented in this chapter offered a space for children and their carers to consider ‘what works’ and also what ‘may not work’ as strategies to engage children to share their perspectives. However, before reflecting on the learning points generated it is important to provide an overview of the project.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: In Press
Schools: Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: foster care; care-experienced children; creative methods; experts by experience; collaboration; co-production
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9781350355750
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2023 12:08

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item